Sitcom Serenade

Does anyone else think that there are enough crime shows on TV? How about medical investigation shows? And am I the only person on the planet who loathes “American Idol”?

It could be argued that there are more despised forms of entertainment. Mimes are not universally appreciated. Serious poetry will always have an empty seat next to it on the bus. Some people don’t even like rock ‘n roll. But perhaps the largest number of people feel secure in dismissing the conventional half-hour-long television situation comedy as plebeian. I feel pretty sure most of the serious poetry  fans do, anyway.

Not me. Although I’ll be the first to admit that the vast majority of these lightweight vehicles fall far short of that brisk confection of wit and timing, subtly and slapstick, and keenness of observation which raise great comedy to a timeless art, there are times, in the best sitcoms, when all the elements miraculously come together and for a few brief shining moments we can be transported out of this world of woe.

Like many of my generation, I took to television at an early age, when the medium was still rough and raw and all in black and white. Pioneer days indeed. The sitcoms of those days, “The Honeymooners,” “I Love Lucy,” and later, “Leave It To Beaver,” set the pattern for the next few decades, when other shows carried forward the sitcom gene code (Mary Tyler Moore), broke new ground (“M*A*S*H,” “Three’s Company”) and raised the bar (“Cheers,” “That 70’s Show,” and “Seinfeld”).

These days it’s tough to come up with a sitcom idea that hasn’t already had all the laughs wrung out of it. Yet each season plucky writers keep trying, and I salute them. But mostly, I sing of Chuck Lorre. The creator of such long running hits as “Two and a Half Men” was unknown to me until he launched “The Big Bang Theory” a year or so ago. The premise: four geeks live across the hall from a cute waitress. And, as they say, hi-jinks ensue. But the quality of those hi-jinks is a quantum leap from the “Lucy makes a mess of things again” type plot lines of fifty years ago.

To get a glimpse of the brain behind “Big Bang” I tracked down the Chuck Lorre Vanity Page site. ChuckLorre.com

You know how at the end of some shows, after the credits and just before the next ad, a block of text  flashes across the screen for about the time it takes to read the first three words and then it’s gone?  I was driving myself mad trying to read them until I found the site. Then, after reading a dozen or so of them, I felt that warm glow that comes when you find an author whose world view resonates with your own.

Not everyone will agree with me, of course. But for those of you who like a little noir with your Zen, a little crunch in your creampuff, or the occasional soupçon of irony in your viewing regimen, you might find “The Big Bang Theory” a diverting little detour from life as we know it.